There’s one truth that governs the shoe world: too small is bad, and too big is worse. However, when buying a pair of Birkenstocks that are a little too big or a little too narrow, the answer isn’t as clear-cut. Is it better to have them squish your toes or hug your feet just right? Scratch that. How should Birkenstocks fit in the first place?
To ensure your Birkenstock sandals fit right, sit down and put them on. Your big toe should be about a quarter inch away from the front of the sandal, and your heel should press against the back of the heel cup. The strap should be about three-eighths of an inch away from your heel when you buckle it across your foot.
Please see the image below to understand better what I mean.
Before we get into the specifics of fitting your chosen Birkenstock sandals, let’s take a look at the sizes available so you can pick the right pair for your feet.
European Sizing Conversion Chart
Birkenstock uses the European sizing system for its footwear. The chart below helps you to convert from American or other international-size systems to European size.
Birkenstock Width Options
Most Birkenstock sandals are available in standard and narrow widths. The majority of buyers choose standard-width Birkenstocks, which work well for most feet. If you have narrow feet, however, you can go for the narrow-width Birks instead.
The image above shows the difference in sizing between narrow and standard width Birkenstock sandals for women and men.
Evaluating the proper fit for your Birkenstock sandals
To make sure you’ve chosen the right size Birkenstock sandals, check three points of your new sandals ( if you have Gizeh sandals, examine the strap anchor too):
- The front toe area
- The heel area
- The strap area
Additional methods to fit your Birks:
- The strap anchor (for the Giseh Birks)
- The toe bar fit
Front Toe Fit
When shopping for Birkenstocks, ensure there is room in the toe box, so your toes aren’t jammed against the end. The right fit should allow about 1/8th to 1/2 inch (3 mm-13 mm) space between your big toe and the sandal’s front edge.
When you put your sandal on, it should feel like the heel cup cradles your heel comfortably. There should be about 1/8 inch to half an inch (3 mm to 13 mm) of space between your heel and the back edge of the sandal.
The strap should fit snugly around your foot. There should be a gap of about 3/8th of an inch (10 mm) between the top of your foot and the strap.
Your foot needs enough space to move around in the sandal, but not so much that it flops around.
Gizeh Anchor Fit
The Gizeh has a strap that houses the great toe, separating it from the other four toes. You’ll want about half an inch between that strap and your second toe.
Toe Bar Fit
Check the toe bar length. When your heel balances on the shoe’s heel cup and your toes sit on the toe bar, the toe bar should comfortably rest under toe knuckles.
If your toes are on top of the bar, the sandal is too long. If they are past it, then the shoe is too short.
Click here to download a printable Birkenstock sizing guide. Print the guide, then use it to determine your correct size.
Another option would be to use a Brannock Device, purchased at most shoe stores, to measure your feet.
Elements of the Birkenstock sandal design
The video below explains the different parts of the Birkenstock footbed.
The Heel Cup
The shoe’s heel cup is designed to support and stabilize the foot when your heel strikes the ground. This helps keep your foot in its orthopedically correct position.
The Lateral Longitudinal Arch Support
The lateral longitudinal arch support cushions the mid and rear sections of your foot and improves the correct placement of your foot on the footbed.
Medial Longitudinal Arch Support
The medial longitudinal arch support underpins the arch of your foot to support your arch and prevent lowering of your inner foot edge. Effectively
The medial longitudinal arch support provides a firm foundation for your foot arches, preventing them from collapsing and dropping.
Traverse Arch Support
The traverse arch support is located in the middle of the sandal, near the toe bar. This support stabilizes the midfoot and relieves pressure on the ball of the foot.
The toe grip supports the natural motion of your toes and promotes your foot’s extension while walking.
You may have noticed that when you wear flip-flops, your toes tend to curl up, which can result in tendonitis. But the toe grip mechanism of Birkenstocks allows your toes to remain relaxed rather than curled up.
Front Footbed Edge
The front edge of the footbed shields the toes and the rest of your foot from injuries.
This unique design of Birkenstock sandals ensures an even distribution of weight over your entire foot, unlike other shoes, which concentrate your weight on one part of your foot.
Birkenstock Sandal Selection
Birkenstock fans are loyal, and the more you know about your Birks, the better you’ll be able to care for them. Hopefully, I’ve helped you square away some misconceptions about how Birkenstocks should fit and arm you with the knowledge you need to make a better decision next time you go shoe shopping.
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